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Judgement Night

Judgement Night

What he said:


A few weeks back I found myself lounging in front of my fireplace longing for a something I knew would enjoy. I was in no mood for taking chances. I wanted to be entertained. I decided to watch Trespass (review here) because I had been catching parts of it on TV, always enjoyed it, but hadn’t seen it all the way through in years. Once I finished the movie I immediately felt the urge to watch Judgement Night. The two movies always reminded me of one another, and now that I had seen one, I had to see the other.

Judgement Night is about a bunch of buddies getting together to go to a boxing match. Emilio Estevez is Frank. He’s got a wife, newborn daughter, house in the burbs , and is the most grounded of the bunch. He seems like a pretty low-key guy, but he actually has a past as a wild man. His buddies indicate that he had a pretty short fuse growing up. You can believe it because his younger brother John (Stephen Dorff) is a hothead. He is ready to fight at the drop of a hat. You get the vibe that there’s some issues between the two brothers, mostly which revolves around the fact that John reminds Frank of himself. Mike (Cuba Gooding Jr.) is somewhere in between Frank and John. He’s kind of a jackass, but not as much as a hothead as John. He’s definitely calmer than John, but also thinks married life has made Frank soft, and rags on Frank because of that. Ray (Jeremy Piven) is a weasel. This guy has the personality of a career politician, car salesman, or a lawyer (and not just any lawyer, but this kind of lawyer). He’s always on. I don’t think he knows how to act any other way.

Judgement Night

So a few hours before the fight they’re all meeting outside of Frank’s house. Ray – being the sleazy business man he is – somehow manages to con his way into “test driving” an RV. This thing is totally loaded. TVs, a brand new stereo system, a full bar, this thing has got it all. So, they’re driving to the fight, enjoying the amenities that come with their sweet ride, and are even watching the preliminary fights on their way there. Minus one little issue, they’re having a good time. The problem is they’re not there yet. Traffic is an absolute nightmare and they’re in danger of missing the main event.   Everyone is starting to realize they’re going to miss the fight when Ray decides to take matters into his own hands. He gets off the highway and opts for a shortcut through unknown parts of inner city Chicago.

Boy is Ray going to regret that decision. Long-story-short they get lost in the ghetto, witness a murder, and spend the rest of the night fleeing from the murderers. The gang is led by a guy named Fallon (Dennis Leary). Fallon lives by a code and one of his rules is that there can be no witnesses. He will not stop until the four friends are eliminated. Along with his henchmen, he chases them all over this urban wasteland.

I mentioned earlier that this movie reminds me of Trespass and it really does. I feel like these movies could actually take place in the same world, but in two separate cities. These movies don’t share any of the same characters, but I always imagined some kind of loose connection, particularly amongst the gangs. I always envisioned the gangs from the two movies being affiliated in some way. Whether it is as enemies or allies, I don’t know. Maybe it is something as minimal as a one off deal between the two gangs, but in my mind these two movies always seemed like cousins.

They have a lot in common too. Both are about regular guys thrust into a dangerous situations in a completely foreign, urban, and dangerous environment. Both movies playoff of stereotypes, paranoia, and have characters with exaggerated personalities. They’re both also satisfying action thrillers with a few laughs thrown in.  

Neither movie feels like a ripoff of the other though. There’s definitely enough differences between the two to make each one worth watching. Dennis Leary is pretty funny as the gang leader Fallon, but he’s also a truly awful person. He’s very menacing and gets quite personal with Emilion Estevez’s character at times. Ice T – the lead villain in Trespass – seems like a fairly reasonable guy at times. You get the vibe he’s way more willing to work something out with the innocent bystanders that he’s run into than Leary’s character is. Both movies are a game of cat and mouse, but Judgment Night has much more chasing going on, to whereas Trespass takes place in a single location and has a much more claustrophobic feel. The paranoia amongst the two groups being pursued by the gangs is similar, but there’s enough differences in all of those involved you don’t feel like one is stealing from the other. Emilio Estevez is without a doubt the leader of his group, but William Sadler and Bill Paxton share the spotlight in Trespass.  Judgment Night also has an excellent final showdown between Frank and Fallon. It’s a knockdown, drag out, ass-kicker of a fight. Tresspass does not have a single faceoff between any two characters anything like this.

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on March 9, 2013.

Judgement Night